Kinship, cosmology and support: toward a holistic approach of childcare in the Akha community of south-western China

Ruijing Wang

Berlin: LIT-Verlag

Year of publication



Despite living in a state that honours science and debases `superstition', and despite making substantial use of the multiple medical resources available to them, Akha villagers in Yunnan still put their greatest trust for health and wellbeing into healing rituals, especially when it comes to their children. The book delves into these apparent contradictions. What is this Akha way of childcare that continues in twenty-first-century China?

It is generally believed that children fall sick from soul loss or attack by spirits. Accordingly, parents frequently invite ritual experts to perform sacrificial rituals for the diagnosis and healing of their children. Relatives (kin and affines), big men, ancestors and spirits all play indispensable roles in these protective rituals. As the process of a healing ritual unfolds, a network of social organisation, kinship, and cosmology is woven.

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